From Factory to Floor: How New Technologies are Reshaping Fashion Logistics

These days, we've become used to commerce happening at lightening speed over the Internet. To take an obvious example, look at buying music: To listen to a new album, the album would have to be physically shipped to a store, and you'd have to drive to and from the store. Now, you can listen with three clicks.

But, when it comes to purchasing real, tangible goods — like apparel, of course — those same dynamics still matter. Getting people products still requires warehouses and forklifts and gasoline and time — seemingly endless amounts of time, in fact, when compared to the lightspeed nature of the e-commerce in the digital age. That's why the logistical challenges Amazon, through their same-day shipping options in Amazon Prime and other programs, has been attempting in recent years have been so extraordinary.

Perhaps more than any other giant to emerge in the past decade, Amazon has attempted to bridge e-commerce with traditional manufacturing, shipping and retail sectors. By comparison, the core services or products provided by Facebook and Google are almost entirely digital, while most of Apple's physical products weren't the sort of things available in brick-and-mortar stores for centuries. In taking on bookstores, Amazon upended a 550-year-old retail model. Essentially, they realize that consumers are getting spoiled by the instant satisfaction available of the digital age. So they're happily taking on the logistical challenge of narrowing the gap between e-commerce and physical logistics.

According to Apparel Magazine
, however, Amazon is hardly the only company involved in this challenge. In fact, several apparel companies are even outpacing the pioneer in the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) to perfect their apparel supply chain management systems and something that Amazon can't exactly do: using the technology to provide an "integrated shopping experience" in stores.

Much has been said of the immediate sales and profit gains that can be realized by using RFID for better inventory management. Yet, there is an even bigger motivation behind these initiatives: the race to the integrated shopping experience. The surprise is that physical retailers have the advantage over companies such as Amazon in this race.

An integrated shopping experience is one that delivers the rich sensory and personal experience of a physical store while meeting the expectations of the online experience. Amazon, the leading online retailer, has set a high bar for excellence in execution with nearly perfect fulfillment. What's more, they continue to set the standard for the information-rich shopping experience by coupling customer history with product information, reviews and recommendations.

To beat Amazon in execution, retailers must tap into their core advantage — carefully selected inventory in stores that are near the customer — and use it to reliably and quickly fulfill demand both in stores and online. But this is only possible if the retailers know exactly what they have in their stores. Similarly, to provide a compelling information-rich shopping experience that is even better than Amazon's, physical retailers can use data about in-store shopping activity to augment the online experience and provide a continuity between them. Only success on both fronts will allow retailers to retain their customers when they are shopping from somewhere other than in the store. Having physical stores is the key to success, but those stores must capture and use information in new ways.

 It's a good example of how technology is driving fashion 3rd party logistics forward — from the factory to the showroom floor. And companies that fall behind the curve may have trouble catching up. The Apparel Logistics Group can help.

Posted: 3/21/2013 1:34:23 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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